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Question about photographing people in morocco

Level Contributor
69 posts
26 reviews
24 helpful votes
Question about photographing people in morocco

I will be traveling to morocco for the first time. I love photography and carry my camera everywhere with me. I have read some info that you are not allowed to take any pictures of people,even if you are taking a picture of the scene. Is that true? Should I be asking for permision every single time I shoot let's say something in the market?ect? Also, i will be traveling through some local vilages..is that ok to take pictures of the kids,locals there? Can I bring small souvenirs for children? My goal is to capture as much culture,portrets as I can,but I would like to stay very sensitive to their culture/religion. Please advise! Thanks!

Ouarzazate, Morocco
Level Contributor
128 posts
9 reviews
7 helpful votes
1. Re: Question about photographing people in morocco


First of all thank you for being sensitive and for respecting the culture.

It is true, that most of the moroccan people don't like to be photographed at all and it is good to respect that. But this doesn't meant that everybody is like that.

If you photograph people from close, yes always ask for permission. When you approach the person, smile and try first (if possible) to engage him/her in a small conversation and then ask for a photo. Accept a 'no' as an answer with a smile. The more you can engage with the people, the more you will be able to get a 'yes'. Some people will ask you for money, that is up to you whether you give them something, but if you give, don't give much (to children it is not good to give money, but small gifts). On the place Djemaa el-Fna in Marrakech you have to pay if you like pictures from the performers (snake charmers and such).

For overall scenes you don't need permission, but still it depends how far away you are from people. If people get annoyed walk away.

After 6 years of photographing professionally in Morocco, I learned that it has a lot to do with yourself and how you approach people. Maybe you will not get so many portraits like in other countries, but those you get will be good memories because you interacted/connected with the people.

Good luck and have a great journey.

San Francisco
Level Contributor
102 posts
14 reviews
14 helpful votes
2. Re: Question about photographing people in morocco

When I was in Jemna el Fna last year, I never saw a hand out so quickly as after I took a pic of a guy with a jar of teeth or dentures. Epic record. I think I gave him a bit of change.

There was another instance where I took a pic of women in a coop on the way to Ait Bennhaddou extracting Argan oil. The scowl on their face made me instantly regret taking the pic.

I think it's human instinct to want to capture these experiences and share with friends and family who will never travel there, but we have to keep in mind that they are humans, not props, who are going about their daily lives.

It's challenging though. Never before have I traveled somewhere that I was do desperate to share with everyone back home.

Destination Expert
for Morocco
Level Contributor
10,072 posts
67 reviews
129 helpful votes
3. Re: Question about photographing people in morocco


There are also loads of interesting previous posts on the subject;


Level Contributor
884 posts
4. Re: Question about photographing people in morocco

Before you take any picture ask for a permission, people they might ask for money to get their photos, so be generouse to the one you take the photos of, or just act like going to take a photo of somewhere else then take it for the people, there is places you can take photos in Marrakech, and every other place just please in case you get closer to people, it's better to get the permission first.

as Shimmin has illustrates above, read the previous posts it will help.

Good Luck

Athens, Greece
Level Contributor
1,634 posts
19 reviews
15 helpful votes
5. Re: Question about photographing people in morocco

Be extra sensitive about not photographin women, they do not like it, especially outside big cities in rural areas.

Castril De La Pena...
Destination Expert
for Morocco
Level Contributor
13,237 posts
68 reviews
79 helpful votes
6. Re: Question about photographing people in morocco

Morocco is changing. One on side there's the ones who don't like their photos being taken because of fear of the evil eye. On the other side there's those who buy a mobile phone even though they don't have reception in their area, so they can take photos on it.

I even get people asking if they can sit on my motorbike whilst their friends take photos of them. I should charge for this!

I don't take photos of people without permission. If I am taking a general view photo I get the camera out, make it plain that I'm going to take a photo and see what the general reaction is. If there's people in main view I wait until they are clear, then I take the photo. No problems.

But some people are really not at all phased about having their photo taken, I've even encountered road workers who've asked me to take a photo of them and email it to their family.

Pisa, Italy
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42 posts
2 reviews
1 helpful vote
7. Re: Question about photographing people in morocco

I would feel highly annoyed if people snapped me as I went about my business in Italy. Last week, many in our small group snapped pictures relentlessly, always asking permission first, and usually giving some small amount of renumeration. It was an arrangement that seemed to work for all involved.

8. Re: Question about photographing people in morocco

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Marrakech, Morocco
Level Contributor
4,324 posts
55 reviews
119 helpful votes
9. Re: Question about photographing people in morocco

In Marrakech the situation may indeed be different probably because of the mass tourism. On the rare occasion that I take my camera with me (for an opening or event like Eid el Kabir) I normally manage to collect a crowd of youngsters wanting to be photographed (and like Tim, requests to email the snaps to them!) There are exceptions though and artisans in the souks can be cadgy about photographing them and their goods. This is because of a fear that competitors could try and copy their wares. If in doubt ask for permission first as previous respondants have said.

2 posts
10. Re: Question about photographing people in morocco

It's interesting this question is here because I'm in Marrakech right now and had a "run in" with a local as I accidentally took a photo of him when he rode into my shot on a bicycle. Having been here a week I can say that general broad shots of an open area are fine but I've seen on more than one occasion locals get upset with tourists that, for example, take a photo of their spice stall with them in front of it (which I think is fair enough). So yes, I can attest personally and from observation that extra care should be taken of taking photos of locals.